SEO for Higher Education

Each year, colleges and universities face increased competition to meet enrollment targets. Reaching and engaging your ideal prospective students early in the college search process allows you to better cultivate their relationship with them and optimize chances for enrollment.

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Because many, if not most, students start their college search online and continue to use the Internet as a primary resource throughout the process, many institutions of higher education are finding SEO to be a highly effective and cost-efficient way to maximize their marketing ROI.

However, SEO has to be done correctly to be effective. A marketing firm offering higher education SEO services will employ a number of techniques to improve online lead generation for your college or university. Here are a few of the most important higher education SEO tips to keep in mind.

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It Starts With Research

Successful SEO requires much more than throwing together a list of keywords and having at it. Before you make any changes to your site, proper research is critical. This includes:

  • SEO auditing. You’ll want to assess your site, competitors’ sites and the online behavior of your target audience.
  • Keyword selection. The best keywords aren’t always the most obvious ones. Proper keyword research allows you to focus on the ones that will result in the highest returns.
  • Strategic planning. Once you’ve gathered all relevant information, you can create a plan to leverage it for the best advantage. If you’re not sure how, consider asking an experienced higher education SEO firm to help you create a winning strategy.

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On-Site SEO Tips for Higher Education

  • Make sure your site is mobile-friendly. Mobile responsiveness already affects search results, and will grow in importance due to Google’s mobile-first index. Higher education websites can be very complex; if your marketing department is not highly experienced in SEO, it may be well worth partnering with a higher education SEO company to ensure your site is optimized correctly for mobile.
  • Use geo-targeted keywords. Even if you attract students from all over, remember that many students search for degrees and programs in a particular city or region.
  • Use keyword variations. Students searching for a particular degree might not use the exact words your college or university does. It pays to include possible variations on each page you optimize. For example, someone who may be interested in your Behavioral Health Science degree might actually use terms such as “counseling”, “human behavior” or “mental health and wellness”.
  • Prioritize your pages. Which degrees, programs or offerings do you want to highlight (for instance, new programs you want to promote, or areas where your university has special appeal)? Focus your initial SEO efforts on these pages.
  • Get technical. From page-loading speed to broken links, there are a myriad of technical details that can affect your SEO results. A good higher education SEO firm will work with your marketing team to identify and iron out existing issues, and proactively prevent new ones.

Off-Site SEO for Higher Education

Off-site SEO primarily consists of getting other, relevant sites to link to yours. Don’t let the simplicity of this concept fool you — roughly 75 percent of SEO consists of backlink creation for best results. Asking your partner institutions and sponsors to link to you, along with getting links from your PR media mentions, is a good place to start. An experienced higher education SEO agency can help you generate even more backlinks, which will create a very strong online presence over time.

Remember that SEO is an ongoing process and grows in effectiveness over time. Be sure to track your progress and tweak your approach for best results.

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